Being a family caregiver or care partner can be quite physically, emotionally, and financially demanding of your life and there are many people who are all alone in this role with no family around to help and little to none additional health supports on board. According to Statistics Canada: portrait of Caregivers, Over 8 million Canadians currently provide care to a chronically ill or disabled friend or loved one. One in 10 of those individuals end up providing more than 30 hours of care each week and despite coping well with these responsibilities, caregivers often report feeling worried or anxious.
I’m excited to talk about today’s topic – which is adult day support services that can offer respite care for family caregivers. We often hear from caregivers that they get overwhelmed and stressed out caring and supporting a loved one living with dementia at home. Yet, day programs can be a wonderful addition to a support system. Our guest is Erin Dickinson, who is Program Manager of Adult Day Support Programs in the greater Edmonton area which includes daily programs in Fort Saskatchewan, Sherwood Park, and Leduc.
Now if you have no idea what a day program is, we’ll share a little explanation. There are a variety of different types of day programs. Some are managed by healthcare organizations; some are privately run, and some are built into services offered through non-profit agencies. Many of them are geared toward general wellness and socialization but some of them are specific to physical or occupational therapy needs. In general, day programs are designed to give caregivers a much-needed break while offering clients structured opportunities for socialization, physical exercise, stretch the creative and cognitive areas of the brain, and be enabled to engage in stimulating activities with a group of their peers. If you look at the website for the Adult Day Support programs mentioned in this episode, it shares their vision to keep families living in their own homes as long as possible by maintaining wellness through recreation therapy. But here’s the real secret: the best thing about day programs is that they are FUN! If you tuned in to catch Erin and I talk about this – you heard the passion and energy that she and her staff bring to the table for clients attending these programs. If you want to skip the audio version and jump to the “action steps” we’re known for on the podcast, keep reading.
- It seems not a ton of people know about day support programs. Yet, it’s not a new idea – they’ve been around for a while and widely available in many parts of the world. If you think this is something that could benefit you or your loved one, I’d encourage you to do a quick google search in your local area and see what pops up. Your search keywords would be – adult day support programs + [your city].
- Next thing I’ll share is: if you’re in the Alberta area and you feel you need some home care support services or are interested in knowing if your loved one qualifies for the day support programs under home care, call 811. That’s the Alberta Health Link Line. They’ll ask you some questions and direct you to the best possible resources available.
- The last thing is this: if you’re a caregiver who is feeling lost, alone, or overwhelmed, please speak up. It’s impossible to receive help or support if no one knows your hurting. There’s a lot of places you can reach out. I know we have listeners (and readers) all over North America. So in our show notes below, I’m going to list several links that can help you find support where you are. I know the dementia journey is not easy and that’s why we’re here. To help you feel less alone and more empowered along the way.
Join us next time on Life With Dementia, the solution-driven podcast sharing relevant research, personal stories, and practical tips for living well with dementia.
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Caregiver Support Resources:
National Institute on Aging (USA): Getting Help With Alzheimer’s
Family Caregiver Alliance (USA): Caregiver Connect
Alberta Health Link 811
AHS Continuing Care Access Line: 780-496-1300
Adult Day Support Programs www.dayprograms.ca
Canadian caregiver statistics taken directly from Statistics Canada: Portrait of Caregivers.
Music: Blue Dot Sessions “OneEightFour”